Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Buy-low candidates to consider right now

MLB.com

Happy official start of summer!

Before you get caught up in trips to the beach, backyard barbecues and enjoying even more baseball, take a few minutes to make a trade to better your fantasy roster.

Happy official start of summer!

Before you get caught up in trips to the beach, backyard barbecues and enjoying even more baseball, take a few minutes to make a trade to better your fantasy roster.

Start with these buy-low options whose forecasts look sunny and hot.

Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals

Oh, we're going here. Despite maintaining the NL lead with 19 home runs, Harper hasn't been doing much else lately. In fact, his June has been one long ride on the struggle bus: .133/.224/.200 with four runs, one long ball and four driven in.

On top of that, Harper's name recently was in the news for some, shall we say, uncalled-for reasons related to his pending free agency. Heck, he even shaved his beard, possibly hoping for some follicle-free fortitude. All this makes for an even better chance that whoever owns the 25-year-old in your league is approaching frustration capacity.

While there's enough in Harper's performance -- including a 34 percent strikeout rate in June -- to have an eyebrow raised, he simply cannot continue this lack of production. For one thing, Harper's career BABIP is .314 -- more than 100 points north of his 2018 mark of .204, which is third lowest in baseball.

For another, his overall walk (16.9 percent) and strikeout (22.9) rates this year are in line with his career numbers (14.2 and 20.6, respectively), so he's only been a little lost at the dish for a few weeks -- not months.

Perhaps most encouragingly, Harper's batted-ball figures indicate he's generating barrels -- the ideal combination of exit velo and launch angle -- 14.5 percent of the time he connects, good for top 20 in MLB. Based on the type and amount of contact he's making, Harper's expected slash line for the year checks in at .263/.396/.557.

That's much more like it, and should reflect a reasonable expectation for him the rest of the way, especially when factoring in his place amid the Nationals' lineup. The recent returns of Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton, plus the eventual improvement from Anthony Rendon should help Harper's approach and counting stats.

Acquiring a superstar via trade in fantasy is always a challenge, so it's imperative to pounce when the opportunity presents itself. Buy low on Harper because you're buying into his underlying stats.

Video: Andrus discusses his return to the Rangers' lineup

Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers

Here's your recommendation that Andrus is an intriguing trade target -- as well as a reminder that he, you know, exists. The 29-year-old, after all, did miss a whopping 59 games from mid-April to mid-June with a fracture in his right elbow after being hit by a pitch.

While his owner likely is happy to have Andrus back, it's also very possible said owner's shortstop position has been filled in some other form, either by the waiver wire or trade, thus rendering Andrus less important to the roster than he was when originally drafted. That Andrus also happens to play for a non-contending Rangers club might make it easier to overlook him, too.

Coming off an out-of-nowhere power spike in 2017 when he more than doubled his previous career high in homers with 20 on his way to career bests in runs (100) and RBIs (88), there justifiably were questions about how much pop Andrus would retain this year. He won't be able to answer those, primarily because of all the time lost to injury, but Andrus has shown a dramatic improvement in his plate discipline with an eye-opening 10 walks against only four strikeouts over (an admittedly small sample of) 76 plate appearances.

If Andrus can continue to get on base with free passes and make loads of contact, he could be in for a very useful second half of 2018 in terms of batting average, runs scored and stolen bases -- even if his home-run production falls back into the single digits.

Video: Check out Kendry Morales' 4 birthday homers

Kendrys Morales, 1B, Blue Jays

A case could be made that Morales has been baseball's most unlucky hitter.

Here are his actual triple-slash stats: .232/.291/.381.

And now for the expected version: .283/.383/.558.

The gap between Morales' actual weighted on-base average (a below league-average .287) and his expected weighted on-base average (a well above-average .383) is second largest in the sport. He also owns a 57.1 percent hard-hit rate (95+ mph exit velo) and a 93.8-mph average exit velocity. Those are third highest (minimum 25 batted balls at 95+ mph) and tied for seventh highest (minimum 100 batted balls) in MLB.

So Morales is hitting the ball hard but not getting the payoff. At least, not yet. If nothing else, he gained a little bit of cushion when Blue Jays phenom -- and potential DH replacement -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went down with a left knee injury that could keep him out of action and on the farm for another few weeks or more.

Morales just turned 35, so he's up there in age, making a full bounceback less of a sure thing. But with the price of acquisition so low right now, owners in AL-only leagues or formats with 14-plus teams might consider bringing him aboard just to see if Morales' fortunes flip.

Jason Catania is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com.